Habits vs Routines; what’s the difference?

Kristy Bertenshaw
2 min readOct 29, 2020


I moved house recently, during stage four lockdown here in Melbourne, Victoria. What an experience moving sight unseen! I’m still madly unpacking from the move — mostly the nitty-gritty organising stuff which I have been waiting for retail stores to open up for to get the bits ’n’ bobs which I need — and as I unpack, I’m thinking about how to design my environment for new habits, routines and behaviours. By radically changing our environment, we can radically transform our behaviour, so moving is an excellent opportunity to press reset.

When we make a decision about behaviour — whether we are going to do something or not — we can be sure it’s not a habit.
Why? If we are making a decision, then the action or behaviour is not automated. If it is not automated, then it’s not a habit.

Habits are something we do automatically.
We do them without thinking.
We are not making decisions.

A routine is something we do with some level of frequency, whether it be:
Every day,
Every other day,
Every week/once a week, or
Every month.

There is a distinct difference.

When it comes to habits, we focus on AUTOMATICITY: How automatic is the behaviour?
When it comes to routines, we focus on FREQUENCY: Do we do this behaviour a lot?

Here’s the curious part. Starting the behaviour; Can be automatic. For example, getting ourselves to the gym straight after work (or before work). We might go on autopilot and get ourselves there, but, once we are doing our workout, we make decisions around what we are going to do.
In this case, there is a combination of habits and routines!

What are some of the things you could focus on to automate more behaviours to free up time in your daily life?



Kristy Bertenshaw

I love to write bite-sized stories, essays & poetry. Revenue Generation & Growth Specialist | Passionate About Using Technology & Storytelling to Drive Results.